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thriller-roundtable-logo5With ThrillerFest firmly in our rearview mirror and our writing bucket full of inspiration, we turn to ITW Members Alan Jacobson, Patrick Oster, Jay Brandon, Robert J. Stava, Paul D. Brazill, Kim Alexander, Sarah Simpson, William Boyle, David Orange and Lisa Black as they discuss how they choose their character’s names. Scroll down to the “comments” section to see what they have to say!


Alan Jacobson is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of a dozen books featuring FBI profiler Karen Vail and the OPSIG Team Black covert ops group. His 20+ years of research and training with the FBI, DEA, ATF, SWAT, Scotland Yard, and the US military infuse his books with verisimilitude. His novels have been optioned by Hollywood and both series have been raved about by federal agents, police captains, FBI profilers, and Navy SEALs.


A veteran of the NYC advertising business, Robert J. Stava is a horror & science fiction writer living in the Hudson Valley, apparently not far from the village where many of his stories are set: Wyvern Falls. His last novel, Nightmare From World’s End, was published by Severed Press in 2016 and his next science fiction-horror novel, Neptune’s Reckoning, set in Montauk, is due out the end of 2018. His short stories have appeared in various anthologies over the last several years and he has also authored one YA novella, The Devil’s Engine, published by Muzzleland Press. He’s also a musician, artist and historian. His non-fiction book Combat Recon was published in hardcover by Schiffer Publishing in 2008, encompassing the history and photography of his great uncle John Stava, a combat photographer with the 5th Air Force in the SW Pacific during WWII.


Always a deep thinking child, Sarah Simpson supposed that one day – she’d become a writer. So many hours consumed by reading, lost in the fantasy worlds of Enid Blyton. Always a people watcher, wondering what is ensuing behind the eyes. But as is often the case, life gripped her hand, and led her along a different path. She graduated first with a business degree and then with a psychology degree. After completing post-graduate studies, Sarah worked as a therapist within the varied field of mental health. This path has gifted her an invaluable understanding of life and of people. Now a writer; she could never have been without these experiences. She wanted to write about life and as with her debut novel, HER GREATEST MISTAKE – perhaps travel the darker aspects of life and relationships.


Paul D. Brazill’s books include Last Year’s Man, Guns of Brixton, Small Time Crimes, and Kill Me Quick. He was born in England and lives in Poland. His writing has been translated into Italian, Polish, German and Slovene. He has been published in four editions of The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime. He has also edited a few anthologies, including the best-selling True Brit Grit.


William Boyle is from Brooklyn, NY. His newest novel, THE LONELY WITNESS, is out now from Pegasus Crime. His first novel, GRAVESEND, will be reissued by Pegasus Crime in September 2018. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi.



Patrick Oster, now writing fiction full time, was a managing editor at Bloomberg News and editor-in-chief of the National Law Journal. He has worked as a journalist for Business Week in Europe, Knight Ridder in Mexico and covered the White House, State Department, the Supreme Court and the CIA as Washington Bureau Chief of The Chicago Sun-Times. He is the author of the nonfiction book The Mexicans, a Book-of-the-Month selection. His award-winning comic thriller The Commuter was published by the Argo Navis imprint of Perseus Books. He also wrote the spy thriller The German Club and the cyber-thriller The Hacker Chronicles. His latest novel is The Amazon Detective Agency, a murder mystery. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers.


Jay Brandon is the author of 18 novels. His previous novel, Shadow Knight’s Mate, has been called “an absorbing, exciting, and absolutely entertaining novel.” His earlier novels include Fade the Heat, which was an Edgar finalist and published by more than a dozen foreign publishers. He has a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University.



Kim Alexander grew up in the wilds of Long Island, NY and slowly drifted south until she reached Key West. After spending ten rum-soaked years as a DJ in the Keys, she moved to Washington DC, where she lives with two cats, an angry fish, and her extremely patient husband who tells her she needs to write at least ten more books if she intends to retire in Thailand, so thank you for your patronage.


David Orange, veteran actor, has co-starred twice on Broadway and has had several memorable film roles including the “Sleepy Klingon” in the hit film Star Trek VI in addition to performing in 300 television commercials and guest roles on TV shows. He also has had 25 articles published in wine and entertainment magazines and two novellas published by small presses.


Lisa Black has spent over twenty years in forensic science, first at the coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and now as a certified latent print examiner and CSI at a Florida police department. Her books have been translated into six languages, one reached the NYT Bestseller’s list and one has been optioned for film. The first two, written as Elizabeth Becka, were followed by seven Theresa MacLean forensic thrillers. Her current Gardiner & Renner series includes That Darkness, Unpunished, Perish, and, in August 2018, Suffer the Children.